Nothing takes the pressure off of the kitchen and even the dining room like a functional, organized pantry. It’s a great place to store those bulk-buys from Costco, bottles of wine, big bags of flour and sugar, seasonal dishes and oversized casserole dishes that don’t fit in your cupboard.
With the Christmas holiday season looming, we thought it was a good time to help you make more room in your refrigerator for your cartons of eggnog and Grandma’s Christmas jello-mold. There are a handful of things that people commonly store in their refrigerators that don’t have to take up valuable real estate next to the milk and eggs. In fact, some of those things are actually better off in the pantry and the fridge, for a variety of reasons, which we’ll point out here. Check your fridge and see if you have any of these eight items inside:
1) Potatoes: Roughly half of the population keeps potatoes in the refrigerator, mistakenly believing that the cold is better for them. Potatoes actually rot and sprout faster in the refrigerator. Part of the reason for this is that there is too much moisture in there for them to thrive. The best way to store them is to wrap them in brown paper and store them in a bin or drawer.
2) Onions: They like the same condition as potatoes. However, keep in mind that potatoes and onions don’t actually like each other, so don’t store them together. Keep them in separate drawers/bins.
3) Garlic: A majority of people keep garlic in the refrigerator, but the cool moist air makes them sprout faster and mold more quickly. Extra garlic can be stored in the pantry inside a brown paper bag. If you want to keep a head closer-by for cooking, purchase a garlic keeper. These tiny little pots (often made of ceramic or terra-cotta) allow in just enough air to keep cloves dry but not dried out. Plus, they look decorative sitting on your kitchen counter.
4) Squash: Many people don’t realize that not only does squash not need refrigerating, squash can keep for several weeks up to a few months in the pantry. Winter squash is particularly hardy. It’s possible to harvest it in the fall and have it still taste nice and fresh after sitting on a pantry shelf all winter long and into spring.
5) Uncut melons: Though not as hardy as squash, melons, too, have a long shelf life. So don’t worry about that watermelon taking up an entire row in your fridge. Just keep in in the pantry until you cut it up, and then refrigerate any leftovers.
6) Pancake syrup: Only authentic maple syrup must be refrigerated after opening, because it’s prone to mold. Ordinary “pancake” syrup doesn’t need to go into the refrigerator. Its high sugar content keeps it from molding. It can last for months outside of the refrigerator.
7) Peanut butter: Like maple syrup, only natural peanut butter needs refrigeration, not the regular kind. Natural peanut butter doesn’t contain preservatives, and the oils in it will go rancid after a few weeks at room temperature. The regular kind will last for several months or more on a pantry shelf.
8) Bread: People who keep bread in the refrigerator are the bane of bakers everywhere. While it might stave off mold for an extra day or two, bread will go stale pretty much overnight in the refrigerator. Keep the loaf you’re eating on the counter, a spare in the pantry and any extras beyond that in the freezer.
Whatever you keep in your pantry, we have a few tips for maintaining optimal freshness:
* If you’re able, keep the temperature in the pantry a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house. They’ll stay fresher even longer.
* Keep your pantry dark. Turn the light on when you have to fetch something from inside. Otherwise, dark is best. Be especially careful to keep out direct sunlight. UV light causes everything to deteriorate faster, including food.
* If you store multiple jars/cans/bottles/bags of the same item/product, keep the ones that expire the earliest at the front of the shelf. This way you’ll avoid throwing any away because the expiry date passed before you could get to them.
Is your pantry lacking in space? Or maybe you have adequate space but the configuration is all wrong? Let Tailored Living come into your home and provide you with a free consultation. We can help design a pantry with storage solutions that fit your individual taste and lifestyle. We can even make room for that case lot of spaghetti sauce you bought on sale.